Dart Real Estate has added the luxury Ritz-Carlton resort to its extensive portfolio of properties in the Seven Mile Beach area.
The developer, which opened the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa late last year, still plans to build another five-star hotel and believes there is sufficient demand for Cayman to become the luxury travel destination of choice for the Caribbean region, according to company president Jackie Doak.
The long rumored deal for Dart to buy The Ritz-Carlton from alternative investment firm Five Mile Capital Partners LLC was finalized on Friday.
It will continue to be branded and operated as a Ritz-Carlton hotel under a long-term management contract.
Ms. Doak said, “It is a great asset to add to our portfolio and sends a valuable message of Dart’s commitment and confidence in the Cayman Islands.”
The purchase does not include The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and Provenance Properties will continue to market and sell those real estate properties on behalf of Five Mile Capital Partners, LLC.
In the last two years, Dart has acquired the Beach Suites resort, the old Hyatt hotel, the Britannia golf course and the Royal Palms property, all along the Seven Mile Beach corridor.
It has also confirmed the purchase of nearly 300 acres on the North Sound, known as the Dragon Bay lands, previously held on a long-term lease agreement from government.
Ms. Doak said Dart was still developing its plans for those properties.
She said there was the possibility of some “synergies” between The Ritz-Carlton and Dragon Bay operations.
Ms. Doak said the company was committed to the Cayman Islands and has invested heavily in its future success.
Plans to build another five-star hotel, rumored to be a Four Seasons, next to the Kimpton, have stalled as Dart considers its response to a request for an environmental impact assessment on its application to remove beach rock from the shallow coastal waters bordering the development site.
Whether the development takes place at that site, or at a different location, Ms. Doak said Dart is committed to building another luxury hotel. She believes there is significant potential for further growth in the luxury travel sector.
“Tourism and financial services are the pillars of success and everything we do is focussed on the continuing growth and advancement of the Cayman Islands in those areas,” she said.
Alasdair Foster, president of Active Investments at Dart Enterprises, said Dart’s properties did not compete with one another, but worked together to bring new tourists to the Cayman Islands.
“The Kimpton was not designed to compete with The Ritz-Carlton,” he said. “It was chosen as a new operator that has a unique style that has allowed the market to grow as a whole. Having common ownership gives us the opportunity to focus on growing the market, bringing more people and new tourists to the island.”
Marc Langevin, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, said the Cayman Islands had the opportunity to position itself as the region’s luxury travel destination.
“The airport is going to be a key element, ensuring there are flights coming in and proper flight distribution. Demand for the destination is amazing,” he said. “We are booking now for 2019, for 2020. We are not concerned about competition. Every island has something different. We have room to be the luxury destination for the Caribbean.” Ms. Doak agreed that improvements in facilities at the airport were key to Cayman’s reputation as a high-end destination.
She said Dart’s acquisition of The Ritz-Carlton and its planned new five-star hotel would complement the work being done to enhance the airport and to attract tourists from new gateways.